While government is cutting some aspects of the Adult Basic Education program and downloading it to private business — Newfoundland and Labrador's first community-based literacy program is thriving.

The Rabbittown Learners Program in St. John's is about to celebrate 25 years of success.


Chairperson Walter Andrews says the program has had a journey of its own. (CBC)

Chairperson Walter Andrews said the program has endured. 

"It was in [a neighbourhood] that was known then as Rabbittown, because there appeared to be a major issue in the area," said Andrews.

"A lot of unemployment, a heck of a lot of poverty, and a lot of people who were without adequate living accommodations."

Like the Rabbittown neighbourhood, the program has also changed.

Shifting emphasis from learning life skills to academics, Rabbittown now offers ABE level 1. Another big change has been the addition of welcoming new Canadians to the program.

Ramadan Ibreheem arrived in the province about a year ago from Sudan.

Living in and out of refugee camps, his life was torn apart by war. Ibreheem said being here means everything.

"If I think about what I have been going through, and my family's going through back home it's really hard … and since I'm here, I'm just here to concentrate on my life and think about my future," said Ibreheem.

Andrews said with the help of just two teachers, about 800 students have walked through their doors.

"It's a great source of pride when we say, 'gosh we've gone through 25 years, and look at the hoops and holes and people we've worked with and assisted' … and it's been a real pleasure and a real joy."

To commemorate the occasion, a dinner and dance for former students is planned. An open house is also scheduled for May 2.